Bozhkov’s lotteries are revoked of license
The Committee on Budget and Finance has approved the amendments to the Gambling Act, tabled by Deputy Speaker Valery Simeonov. Eleven deputies voted in favor of the project, no one against it and six abstained.
The draft act is to be considered at first reading in plenary.
The amendments to the law prohibit the organization of gambling, the distribution of tickets, slips, coupons or other signs, as well as the payment of gambling profits to persons or sites or chains of sites without the relevant license. The texts stipulate that lottery games, with the exception of raffle, bingo, keno or their variants, may be organized only by the State Enterprise "Bulgarian Sports Totalizator" after obtaining the relevant license.
The law allows (within 30 days of its entry into force) the organizers, whose license will be terminated, to establish in favor of the State Gambling Commission an unconditional and irrevocable bank guarantee with the amount of the profits not having been paid so far.
The project has prompted accusations by businessman Vasil Bozhkov that it is aimed at nationalizing its lottery companies and transferring the business to another person. He officially announced that if he were to be taken his "National lottery", he would leave the Levski football club.
At the same time the State Financial Inspection Agency announced that additional documents had been seized from the Gambling Commission. Their initial analysis shows that there are violations of the Gambling Act with regard to fees collected by gambling organizers.
"We can conclude that the uncollected amount of money from the separate gambling organizers which was announced by the Director of SFIA is significantly higher," the official position of the State Financial Inspection Agency says.
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov also commented on the topic at the beginning of today's government session. "If the SFIA’s report on the fees paid by gambling companies is true, many people will have problems," the prime minister said.
At the same time the Ministry of Finance has published for public discussion a draft Law on the National Gambling Agency (NGA), which proposes a change in the form and organization of the gambling regulator in Bulgaria – i.e. the State Gambling Commission is restructured into a National Gambling Agency.
Part of the proposals are also related to the fees that the gambling operators pay the budget. Instead of the current 15% on the value of the bets, it is proposed that the fee be 25% on the difference between the bets and the winnings paid to participants, i.e. it is probable that the contribution of gambling companies will decrease.
"What kind of nationalization is being talked about? Nobody takes anyone’s company. If one had not paid their fees, their license would be revoked and the company remains in their possession." the PM told ministers.
The Prime Minister also announced that he had instructed Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov and Parliament's Budget Committee Chairman Menda Stoyanova to state GERB's position if it came to a vote on the Gambling Act ammendments.
Goranov retains the old and higher fee for gambling services
The Treasury has announced that it will retain the previous version of the state fee for gambling operators.
A fee of 15% on the value of the bets placed will be paid by companies offering traditional lottery, raffle, instant lottery - tote, lotto, bingo, keno and their variants, sports and horse and dog racing betting games, casual events betting and fact-finding bets, with the exception of online betting.
For gambling games where the participants play against each other and the gambling organizer only arranges the game to take place, for which fees and commissions are collected, there will be a state fee for maintaining the license of 20 percent on the value of the fees and commissions received.
According to the Ministry, the main purpose of the changes is, first, to create legal certainty for the gambling organizers , clearly distinguishing what the due state fees are for the different types of gambling. On the other hand, it was proposed that the model of setting the state fee for online gambling should also be applied to traditional gambling, with a view to ensure a level playing field and the introduction of good European practices.